StartThis Idea #1: Product Placement via Airbnb Hosted Rentals

A new type of marketing that integrates products into your travel experience

A niche marketplace that helps local businesses and marketers of household goods and travel-related services advertise through AirBnB Hosts and their properties.

Categories: Marketplace, Software, Product Placement, Marketing

Skills needed: Software development or no-code, two-sided marketplace knowledge

The Pitch: Airbnb properties are a massively untapped marketing channel. Each year, 150 million travellers stay in Host properties, where they are interacting with, or sampling someone’s products. Usually, no attention is drawn to this, and no value is gained.

The mattress they sleep on, the complimentary toiletries or coffee, or the artwork decorating the place… are all opportunities to advertise and create an incredible amount of value.

Advertisers get unparalleled access to an audience who is sampling their products first-hand, Hosts get additional revenue streams, and guests get to try incredible products as part of their stay.

All you need is a way to actually connect this supply (of properties) and demand (for advertising). This is where a marketplace seems like the best solution to help make “live-in marketing” an entirely new category.


I stay in around a dozen Airbnb’s a year, and have noticed this opportunity first-hand. When you’re in a new place, you are much more aware of everyday household items. As an example, if I get a great night’s sleep, I often check the mattress brand to note for later. These are part of the experience.

Here are some categories that guests might interact with during a stay:

  • Mattress and bedding

  • Towels

  • Toiletries - handsoap, shampoo, bodywash/bars, etc

  • Air fresheners

  • Furniture

  • Artwork and decor

  • Coffee/tea

  • Spices

  • Dishsoap

  • Laundry detergent (long stays)

  • Other food items

  • Small appliances (toaster, coffee maker)

You get the idea. And of course, this doesn’t take into account the things people do outside of the home during a stay. A similar opportunity exists for restaurants, entertainment, and local retailers. These could also be mixed: a local brewery could give Hosts free beverages so they can provide a sample to guests in the Airbnb, in exchange of leaving a brochure or menu in the place.

Done well, this could actually be used by smart Hosts to differentiate their units. “You’ll feel refreshed after you sleep on the new Casper XYZ mattress, and awaken by the fresh roasted coffee supplied by Local Bean Coffee Company.” Much better than generic descriptors, right?

Data points & research:

  • 150 million annual stays in Airbnb alone (this idea could be platform agnostic, by the way) - 41% in the US alone.

  • 7 million listings

  • In researching, I discovered a YC company that just launched doing the same thing - it’s called Glimpse. While it’s always a bit deflating to find out a new idea already exists, it’s worth noting that this is a huge opportunity and this competitor is very new. Second-mover advantage could be powerful here if you can figure out how to grow faster and exploit their weaknesses.

Strategy notes:

This is a two-sided marketplace, which means you generally need to pick one side to grow first and focus on. In this case, I think the answer is the demand-side (advertisers).

Start locally, but try to get national brands on early. This will become a land grab if competition grows, and early relationships will be important. Once matured, advertisers will want to use one or two platforms, tops - get ‘em early.

Once you have enough interesting brands and products that Airbnb Hosts would see as good value, you can start to onboard Hosts.

Initially, I thought Hosts might be what you to try to build up first, and then go to advertisers with your pitch. The challenge, though, is that Hosts are not easy to track down or acquire. You need a bit more of a pull strategy here so that they find you.

If you can nail down a few big brands, you can more easily create some word-of-mouth and virality.

Also, a Guest affiliate program, where Guests could encourage Hosts to sign up, might be helpful.

Possible names or taglines:

LivedIn, SampleStay, StayTryBuy, something with ‘showroom’.

Start it!